Published Dec 01, 2004Hotel Rwanda is an amazing film, devastatingly powerful in capturing simultaneously the best and the absolute worst aspects of humanity. Based on true events, the film centres around Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), a hotel manager in Kigali, Rwanda who ended up harbouring and protecting hundreds of displaced people during the genocidal war that occurred there in the mid-'90s.
Hotel Rwanda is an incredible story of a reluctant hero in an unbelievable situation who used everything in his power to save the people around him from certain death. It doesn't pull any punches about the complete lack of response or intervention from the Western world, making us ask ourselves how this could happen and how we could do nothing to stop it.
From a legacy of colonialism that pitted neighbours against one another to an impotent U.N. peacekeeping force and an indifferent world, the West has a lot to answer for. The atrocities committed to and by the Rwandan people are incomprehensible, and while the film doesn't dwell too much on graphic details, the horrifying things that you witness through Paul's eyes are intensely disturbing.
A harrowing sense of tension and dread is present throughout the film, even though it astoundingly manages to have moments of humour, hope and sweetness. The cast is tremendous, led by an incredible Cheadle, who completely loses himself in the role. The ending has a whiff of Hollywood contrivance to it, trying to wrap something up nicely, but what you're really left with is the inexplicable horror laid out in the preceding hours. (UA/MGM)